HCA apex council suspends president Mohammad Azharuddin over conflict of interest charges

Mohammad Azharuddin after a court lifted his life ban Associated Press

The apex council of the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) has "suspended" its own president, former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin, for alleged violation of its constitution and conflicts of interest. However, the validity of the suspension could be in doubt as only the general body of a state unit has the powers to suspend a sitting president and not the apex council.

The HCA apex council had been at loggerheads with Azharuddin for a while now, and during a recent BCCI special general meeting in May this year, wanted Shivlal Yadav, also a former India cricketer, as its representative. But the BCCI intervened, allowing Azharuddin to attend the meeting.

Azharuddin called the move against him as vendetta and vowed to fight back.

The HCA suspension notice, a copy of which is with PTI, stated: "After considering the complaints made by the members against you (Azharuddin), it was decided at the Apex Council meeting on the 10th of this month to issue a show-cause notice on the ground that you have acted in violation of the rules.

"The Apex Council is suspending you and your membership of HCA is being terminated until completion of the inquiry on these complaints."

The Apex Council had also levelled charges of "misconduct" and various acts of "omission and commission" against Azharuddin.

On the conflict of interest charge, the notice stated that Azharuddin had not disclosed that he owned a T10 team in Dubai and that was in violation of the BCCI's constitution, which states that no office-bearer was allowed to own a cricketing entity.

"The complaint discloses that you are a mentor of a private cricket club in Dubai by name Northern Warriors which participates in a T10 cricket tournament which is unrecognized by the BCCI. The fact of you being a mentor has not been communicated to the HCA at any time," the notice added. "It is also apparent that you have not communicated the same to the BCCI. Therefore you being a mentor of an unrecognized tournament comes under the ambit of conflict of interest as envisaged under Rule 38 (1) (iii) of the Memorandum of Association and Rules and Regulations 2018 of HCA."

Azharuddin, on his part, issued a press release and termed it "belligerent" posturing with scant regard for the rule of law. "Today, the institution of cricket administration itself is under threat by these false narratives being published in the media," his statement read. "Please verify the truthfulness of the information, hear the other side, then take a rational view in line with the HCA constitution before you publish something because the society believes what you write."

He has also hit back at apex council member K John Manoj, a well-known coach.

"All their efforts have gone in vain. Their intention to scuttle the appointment of the Ombudsman might be because of the lurking fear that their multiple clubs acquired through manipulation and fraud will be exposed and they may lose their valuable property - the cash cow that sucks the blood of cricketers from a 14-year-old boy to a 23-year-old youngster aspiring to realize their dreams," the statement said.

The other four members of the council are R Vijayanand, Naresh Sharma, Surender Agarwal and Anuradha.